Now that Michele Bachmann has dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, speculation is rampant about what the Minnesota congresswoman and Tea Party standard-bearer will do next. "Make no mistake: I'm going to continue to be a strong voice," Bachmann said after finishing last in the Iowa caucuses. "I'll continue to fight." The question is, where will Bachmann's next battleground be? Here, four theories:
1. First, she'll decide whether to stay in Congress
The odds are at least "50-50 that she runs for the House again," says Devin Henry at MinnPost. And while Bachmann decides, Minnesota Republicans are keeping her seat warm. "The field is frozen," Ron Cary, a former Bachmann aide and past state GOP chairman, tells Politico. "People assume she'll run for re-election." Don't be so sure, says the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Bachmann's "fast-growing" district "is slated for a radical overhaul, needing to shed some 100,000 people," and some Minnesotans believe Bachmann won't re-up if the new district lines are unfavorable to her.
2. Perhaps she'll follow Sarah Palin into showbiz
Forget another run for Congress, Minnesota GOP operative Kent Kaiser tells the Associated Press. Bachmann is more likely to follow in the footsteps of Sarah Palin, who resigned as Alaska's governor and used her run on John McCain's 2008 ticket as a springboard into a career on the lucrative speaking circuit. Palin also wrote a book and made a splash on reality TV. Bachmann "must look at Palin and believe she could be even better in the media, as a kingmaker, and as a speaker."
3. Bachmann will set her sights on the Senate
When Bachmann announced the end of her presidential campaign, she didn't sound like someone planning to get out of politics, says Jessica Grose at Slate. She mentioned "ObamaCare," which she's out to destroy, nine times, and threw in references to God and the founding fathers for good measure. That "forthright, confident speech" implies that there may be something to the speculation that Bachmann wants to challenge "incumbent Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who is running for re-election in Minnesota this year." Don't bet on it, says Henry. Polls suggest the Democratic Klobuchar would "clobber Bachmann," who is so controversial outside her district that she probably wouldn't fare well against Democratic Sen. Al Franken in 2014 either.
4. Romney will pick her as his running mate
"A Romney/Bachmann ticket perhaps?" says Joanne Bamberger at iVillage. Bachmann was the only woman in the race, and the GOP has to be worried that some female voters will "feel less invested in the 2012 race now that the remaining events and debates will feature only men in suits." Nominate Bachmann for vice president and that problem is solved. Bachmann has "compared herself to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher," and if she becomes the GOP's VP choice, her retreat from the field could be "a strategic move worthy of her Iron Lady idol."